Tips for going on holidays with dogs

Holidays are back on the cards and staycations are a popular option for dog owners this summer

Here’s a few tips on how to get the most out of your next trip.

From 4 July 2020, the government allowed the public to start going on holiday again. Many pet owners will be considering booking dog-friendly trips in the UK with their pooch. Here’s a few tips on how to prepare so you and your dog can get the most out of your staycation.

It’s wise to think about the trip from your dog’s perspective. We instinctively consider this from our own position, but its wise to consider our dogs personalities too.

Preparing for travel

In current times, travel is an important consideration. If your dog loves the car and always wants to travel with you, there will be little change in their behaviour, even if they haven’t been in the car over the last few months. While they might be a bit more restless and excited, on the whole your dog will be delighted to be going somewhere with you. A couple of short local journeys in the weeks leading up to your break away will help your dog to settle and be more prepared for a longer trip.

If your dog is an inexperienced car traveller, or is usually worried by car travel, then doing some preparation in the days and weeks before a longer journey will help.  Doing short journeys to and from their favourite walk area is ideal. This helps your dog get used to the motion of the car in really short bursts, and gives them an adventure in association with the journey. This works really well for dogs that enjoy their walks.

It’s a good idea to do some walks in new and unfamiliar locations. Try to find environments as similar to your holidays location as possible. Always take rewards and make it a positive experience. If your dog is still displaying nervous behaviour, we recommend getting advice as soon as possible from Woodgreen or your vet.

Reward-based training

Doing some basic reward-based training when out and about helps your dog maintain focus and engagement on walks. Recall is an area that needs particular attention. Even if your dog has a great recall at home, it’s not something that can be guaranteed in new places. If your holiday is in a location with livestock, in wildlife reserves or near cliffs, off-lead exercise might not be suitable. Even if you think off-lead will be an option, it’s still worth taking equipment that will enable enough freedom while also ensuring safety. A harness and a longline lead enables freedom to explore, but it also prevents chasing livestock, hunting, or running off a cliff top. When using a longline, it’s sensible to wear gloves as they prevent any friction burns. This is especially relevant with medium and large dogs.

Ensure their microchip details are up to date

Before you go, check your dog’s tag and make sure your contact information is current. It is a good idea to include the address of the campsite or hotel you will be staying at. Sometimes that can be challenging, especially if you are moving around and cannot provide an address. You could use an address of a friend or family member – ultimately, someone who knows you and your dog very well and would endeavour to get through to you, or be prepared to travel to collect your dog. Most importantly, do include a telephone number, and where possible, use more than one. It’s good to research the number and address of a vet local to the area you are staying in the event that your pooch may need to visit one.

Avoid leaving your dog in a car

Every year we hear many terrible stories of dogs left in vehicles, and the outcome is often the worst imaginable. Dogs should never be left alone in a car, even on moderately warm days in just a few minutes the temperature can rise to dangerous levels. Do your research in advance and be sure to choose places to visit where dogs are allowed. We have more information about the dangers of leaving a dog in a car here.

Helping your dog in hot weather

Dogs are highly susceptible to heat stroke, so it’s critical take precautions. There are cool mats and cooling coats available, and these can be effective if they are used as per the instructions. Dogs can only lose heat through panting, or through their feet. Breeds that have shorter noses like boxers, pugs, Shih Tzu, etc, struggle as their breathing is less efficient than longer-nosed dogs. Extra caution needs to be taken with short nosed dogs, overweight dogs, the young, elderly, and dogs with health issues.

Plan your holiday activities to accommodate the temperature. Woodland walks might be better than sandy beaches, early morning and late evening walks need to replace walking during the day on hot days.

When the weather is hot, the ground surfaces like paving, tarmac, and sand become extremely hot. Always check the ground on sunny days before setting off – generally, soil and grass are cooler surfaces. Do the hand test – place the back of your hand on the ground for 5 seconds. If it’s too uncomfortably warm for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. We have more advice on helping your dog in hot weather.

Water safety

Many dogs love beach walks and it can lovely to see them running and playing in the sea. For beach trips, always take some fresh water and a bowl. Usually, dogs won’t drink salt water. However, if they are very hot and thirsty, some will. Dogs who grab at moving water, or who retrieve toys from the sea are at more risk of accidentally consuming dangerous levels of salt water. Limiting access to the waves and stopping toy play can help reduce this, and having plenty of fresh water is critically important if you see or suspect your dog may have consumed some salty water. Drinking salt water can and often does result in very watery diarrhoea. Here is our full guide to dogs and water safety.

Be mindful of clifftop walks

Clifftop walks can be beautiful and really interesting for everyone including your dog. However, from your dog’s perspective it’s difficult to see the cliff edge. When running, they are unable to stop in time, and in that environment the birds are especially likely to be near the edge and often take to the air from the cliff top. Keeping your dog on a harness and longline allows some freedom, but also gives you the peace of mind of knowing you can prevent any disasters occurring.

Thinking ahead will help you and your dog have a safe and fun packed holiday!

Still looking for advice?

These few simple steps and preparations will help you and your dog get the most out of your holiday.

If you have travel questions or need any further behaviour advice, do not hesitate to contact our team for free pet advice and support.

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